Never speak too soon…first proofreading edit of ‘Dunn’ done, but not a lot else

This week has been a flop on every front.

There are reasons – I have a multitude of excuses, but basically, it went pear shaped.

I have managed to get distracted by everything, but mostly….

It’s chilly, so every time I sit down to write, the lady above comes for a warm-up cuddle, knocking stuff on the floor and walking on my keyboard. I have three, but one doesn’t do laps. He just rolls around looking all cute and shouting at you for food…

Feed me I’m staaaarving….go on…. please. 

Hard life being a pet cat!

So, it’s all their fault that I’ve only managed 3400 words of ‘The Seagull’ this week. It’s got nothing to do with me procrastinating a spending too much time on wattpad and Twitter, chatting to other wannabe authors. Fun but not productive, really.

Managed a chapter and a half. Poor old Oisin’s in a bad way, but there’s a new God on the scene. In the original mythology his name is Dagda, and he has a staff that can mete out life and death. He’s using the ‘life’ end to start cars in my story.  A new ‘walk on’ character popped up too and changed a sub plot of my story … I may have to be mean and take away most of his lines, though as I think in retrospect I want it back how I thought it… planned is too strong a word. I have a loose plot, then write what comes into my head. But I think the original idea is better, so sorry tobacco-chewing Tom.

The first half of the week was a running shambles as well 😭, which always puts me in a bad frame of mind. I am currently doubting very much that I will improve my half marathon time of 1 hr 43 in February. In fact I’m thinking I may have peaked.  I failed my tempo run Tuesday after finding it fine the week before… training error alert, maybe, so I’m going to have a couple of days rest after the 18.5 mile long run this week to see if that makes a difference. That and a twenty the week after and then I’ll scale back the distance to 13 miles ish and work on speed until the half, before picking up distance again after the race. There’s a good 6 weeks between the half and full marathon this year and I feel more confident that I’m on track for the 3.50 marathon. I had a reasonable track session Thursday, despite a wheezy cough (reason for crap tempo?) and had a good chat about marathon strategy, so feel a bit better about the running now than I did. Still dubious about the half though, probably not helped by the October disaster. There are always others. 

That’s it for this week. Here’s hoping that next week is better all round.

Past the half way mark on the Seagull…. getting there with Dunn… running so far so good but v tired

I seem to all of a sudden have had students that want tutoring (the post Christmas panic) and so I have lost a day a week. But realistically I need the cash!  
Still managed a reasonable chunk of writing last week: 4.5 k words of the Seagull, taking me up to the end of chapter 16 and 37+k words. Not bad. 

I think I can finish it by the end of January/mid Feb depending on how much the second proofread of Dunn throws up.  What I have learnt from the lovely husband proofreading, is that the ‘freewriting’ approach that my teachers took in the 1980s has made my grammar and style ok (with Todd my tutor’s help of course), but I seriously need to learn some punctuation rules (hyphens and semicolons especially). 

So, there is my new mission: Make sure in draft 2 of the Seagull that I learn and apply the use of hyphens and semicolons appropriately (so the husband’s proofreading job is easier).  He also spotted a ‘technology’ issue in the plot of Dunn, which I have now rectified. He’s good 😀 I’m lucky to have a technical writer as a husband (even if he is leaving all the dishes…..)

Made it to 311 reads on wattpad now – reasonable for 2 months in, but slowing. Getting runner up in the winter solstice competition has made me think that entering non wattpad competitions may be a plan….so there’s another mission for 2018. 

I’ve also joined some author groups on Facebook, though I haven’t sorted my page out. I really have issues with Facebook and it’s layout. I just don’t find it easy to set up and it’s off putting. Fortunately, Matador will set it up for me. Twitter is sorted and I am happily tweeting bits of both novels amongst other things….all to other writers, but it’s a start.  

No website subscribers yet, so may have to rethink the structure a bit, but this week is all about proofreading and writing. Already my diary is filling with other stuff, though, so watch me fail to meet my goals:

Dunn first proofreading edit complete (husband dependent)

Chapter 17 and 18 of the Seagull drafted

Chapter 10 of the Seagull edited and up on wattpad (9 went up this week)

I think that’s probably ambitious this week, but we’ll see.

In the Seagull on wattpad, my main character, Louis the Sun God has just entered the Nothingland – Balor’s realm of the dead – with his Pixie friend Algernon.  They have to get across it to get to America and find his mother, so have to get across the dead Atlantic. Running this morning felt like running through the Nothingland in oh, so many ways!

The grey is not quite as intense as I have imagined for the Nothingland, but it’s not far off! Car headlights on at 9 am, that kind of day. Also, when Louis tries to run there, his legs are heavy. Mine were like lead this morning after my mileage increase to 37 with a 17 mile long run last week. I forget every year I do it how knackering marathon training is. A few weeks respite to focus on speed after this week until the half, then back to the long runs again. I like them in a weird way. They’re a bit of a journey, to be cliché and I feel good afterwards. Also enjoying the running club challenge. I am seriously challenged by moving up a group to the 22 mind 5k pace group, but that’s the point. 7 repeats of 500m then 300 m last Thursday was HARD. But I did it, albeit slightly slow. 

Right. Chapter 17 of the Seagull, here I come. Louis is out of the Nothingland now….but poor Oisin is in a bad way

Runner up in a wattpad competition, running through Royston Vasey and dodging nerf bullets

So… Christmas has come and gone in a hail of nerf bullets, quality streets and way too much cheese and pastry. We had friends here this year, with a boy the same age as my son. We all had a great time, but I’m exhausted. 7 am am nerfwars are not relaxing….

I now only have 8 months left of my year off and I am still not quite ready to release ‘Dunn’ on the world.  It is still in proofreading by poor beleaguered, (but free), lovely husband… he’s nearly there and I’ve done all the corrections he’s thrown at me…..then I think it needs another proofread to check. I can’t see mistakes anymore and I can’t read it again!

However the first chapter is available as a sample for anyone who subscribed to my website, which you can find here and the second chapter will come a week later.  Hopefully I will be ready to go by mid January and then over to Matador to format, is the current plan (though they haven’t sent me contracts yet).

On a very bright note, the Seagull (working title) got runner up in the Winter Solstice competition on wattpad in the ‘naturally normal’ fantasy character category,, so I am very proud of my main character, Louis. A lot more people have read it now too. I’m up to 257 when I last looked…still not tonnes, but growing steadily. Long may it last (though it probably won’t). I’m enjoying my wattpad experience a lot. Chapter 8 is now up.

Marathon training was going well until Christmas and storm Dylan got in the way, though the anniversary episodes of League of gentlemen have made me realise that my long run (16 miles now) takes me through the southern version of Royston Vasey. Go in the local co-op for local people and you’ll see what I mean (this is a local shop for local people. There’s nothing for you here)  Still, it gives me moments/photos like this

Both of which are great inspiration for various bits of writing.

So, the son and husband go back to school and work, respectively on Tuesday and then it’s back to it. Not sure the seagull is going to be quite finished by the end of January, but it won’t be far off and I’m still aiming for that goal… hopefully it will be ready to go by the spring when ‘Dunn’ is out – and the whole self publishing/agent attempt dilemma starts again. As it’s part of a duology/trilogy though, I probably want to get them all drafted before I go for it, so plenty left to do.  Pleased with months 1-4 of the sabbatical though 😁

Hmmm I did start twittering, ran enough and went for a lovely chilly seaswim…not much actual writing though

What a glorious morning  the sun is out, low in the sky and I’ve just been for a lovely short run up the cliff …beautiful. Days like this remind me that I am lucky to live where I live and have easy access to such inspiring views.

Other days, when it’s like Mordor, I guess it’s inspirational in  a different way. I’ve based the ‘purgatory’ in my second novel ‘the Seagull’ on the all consuming greyness that we get round here sometimes in winter/autumn.  I’ve called it the Nothing and  so far….So’m lucky in a different way then, but need reminding of that when I have to go and run in it….

I guess that’s true of anywhere though, but the grey days 

Well….running aside, that week was a bit of a non-starter. In terms of actual writing I achieved basically nothing.  I have started a few Twitter conversations as suggested by a graphic novelist friend of ours, but I  seem to have had various ‘things’ on this week, all fun and worth it, but I’ve only managed to write about 700 words…. that’s rubbish!!! 

Still, chapter 6 of ‘The Seagull’ is up on wattpad…reads and votes are slowly creeping up, but still…one small pigeon step at a time.  I am advertising it on my new Twitter account too, so it’s all practice for when ‘Dunn’ finally comes out next year. I’ve picked up a few twitter and wattpad followers, joined a lovely friendly twitter group called turtlewriters, and had a nice chat with an American writer who knows a lot about Irish mythology…all great, positive stuff and I’m glad I finally bit the bullet and did it. 

Other than that, I went for a lovely sunny seaswim with my new sea swimming friend. It sounds mad, but it’s such a great feeling getting in the sea, even when it is about 7 degrees and the puddles are iced over!!! I am still at the wetsuit stage and will be for this year I think, but she had already been in that morning wetsuit-free!!! Next year maybe for me 😵 

My son had his nativity play. It was jn a church this year, and much less fun than in previous years at the school. Its always marvelous to see him  perform. He had a speaking narration part this year and sang his heart out, bless him, but we are not religious and I did find the forced prayer etc difficult to swallow. He enjoyed it though and that’s the main thing. My favourite of his school plays is currently when he had the part of a singing, dancing camel though. Much more creative and fun. He’s had a good week this week. He got most improved student at the Tae Kwon Do Christmas awards. Super proud of him and thought he was going to take the trophy to bed 😀

Then Thursday was taken up going to London to see a band with my husband… great fun, totally worth it (despite the hangover) but coincided with me coming out of a two-week writing slump and feeling inspired!!! Typical. Hope the mojo revisits next week, though we are then into the Christmas run up!!!! 

Marathon training is on track at least (glossing over the duathlon I signed up for in January and have done no cycling for) and my hamstrings are….ok….bit tight on the left again, but….ok 😵. Hope it stays that way. Fifteen miles was fine last week so 16 tomorrow and then speed and a few more hills after Xmas to try to get the half marathon time down before I tackle the longer marathon runs. There’s more time between the half and full I do this year which I think is a good thing…guess I will find out (hamstrings allowing)

A second (positive!!) Rejection..  but I have got my website up and running and had 2 seaswims

November and the first half of December seem to have passed in a whirlwind!!! What’s happened to all that time?

I have had to tell work that I am going back in September 2018, even though it is only December, but I suppose I get why, and actually now I have sent the email I have stopped thinking about it and dreading it so much! 

I got a rejection from the second of the three agents that I tried, but it was positive, if that is at all possible! They said that they enjoyed Dunn, and it stood out from the many submissions they received, but it was not right for that agent, in this instance. So, I am choosing to feel encouraged by that, but I think I will stick to the decision to go it alone and self-publish rather than write a whole load of tailored synopses and cover letters to other agents for potentially no gain. I have explored that avenue and it just doesn’t seem a good use of my time. 

The first proofreading edit of Dunn is over half way through now and I know my misuse of hyphens is driving my husband mad. He is a great proofreader (which he should be as a technical writer!) -semi-retirement career anyone?  I think it will need a final check through after this edit, just to run a final check, but it should be good to go in the New year. Which means I need to get a plan together for marketing it! 

I have chosen to go with Matador/Troubador as they are recommended by the writer’s and artist’s yearbook and are given a good rating by the alliance of independent authors (who I will join once Dunn is actually published). They offer a social media marketing service, and I have decided to use that as it includes a Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads introductory campaign.  

I have set up my website – the preliminary design can be found here. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I am particularly interested in your views regarding my preliminary book cover design for Dunn, which is on there on the ‘Dunn’ page with a comment box 😀

‘The Seagull’ is slowly picking up reads on wattpad, and the link to the published chapters is also on my new spangly website and here. I’ve had some lovely comments and feedback on there, but it seems to be taking me a longer time than some to build up reads…. that’s the way it goes I think and I do wonder if it’s the right ‘platform’ for it. I think it is possibly a bit too young to hold the interest of the majority of readers on there (13-30 I read somewhere, with an average age of 21).

Anyhow, it’s all a bit of an experiment. I’ve had some funny conversations on the forums and got some good tips from one of the administrators of the book club I joined (#WWBC). There is a program called Kindle Scout in which you pitch your novel to try to secure a Kindle press contract .. might be one to consider for ‘The Seagull’ I think, as the turnaround is a month or so, and I just want to get ‘Dunn’ out there now.

So, quite an eventful few weeks, even though they have gone quickly and I haven’t done as much writing as I’d hoped (just started chapter 13 of ‘The Seagull’) 

The good thing about this blog is that I realise I’ve actually made a fair bit of progress now I’ve written it all down.

Also been in the sea twice!!! And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though the second time was on a duller day and felt colder. I love just getting in the water, so I’m really pleased I bumped into a lady I used to swim with who’s moved close to us and she is willing to humour my lack of acclimatisation!!

We didn’t go in here as it’s dangerous, but it’s pretty and I love the cormorants

Off for a sunny long run now before the next wave of wind and rain hits tomorrow. I’m up to 14 miles, so trying for 15 today, though I have been under the weather so planning to play it by ear. Not bad progress. I’m up to 31 miles a week now and creeping up a mile or so a week with the aim of scaling back the long run after Xmas a bit to work on speed a bit more…sorry yawn. Running talk is boring if you aren’t addicted to it.

ZZ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Skeletal dolphin pods, dead pirate queens….and a zombie invasion

Well ..I’m up to 62 reads on wattpad, but some people who put their story up around the same time as me have loads more 😭 . I suspect I should spend more time on the chat forums, but I want to do some actual writing…I know it’s good practice for when Dunn goes up on Amazon and I have to start Facebooking and Twittering daily, but I want to write too.

All the comments I have had about ‘the seagull’s been very positive, though and I’m enjoying the process. Plus it’s keeping me writing. I would anyway, but it’s good to have a motivation and it will prepare me!!

Whilst I wait for my poor husband to finish proofreading (bless him, he’s half way through) I have killed a pixie (I think I mentioned) and got my main character, Louis, across a dead ocean in my version of purgatory with the help of a bunch of skeleton dolphins. Sadly the pixie Algernon was in the underworld too long, helping Louis escape wraiths and phantoms and he didn’t make it! 

I have had a pretty slack week though. My husband had a day off on Tuesday so we went for an 11 mile walk through Mordor.

It was exactly the sort of grey, drizzly autumn day that I have based the purgatory I have invented in ‘the seagull’ on.  

We had a great time though. Sometimes it’s just nice to do stuff together and it was amazing to see the sun fighting it’s way through a hole in the cloud to light up the sea…. inspiration for another scene in the seagull, I think. It was a mythological kind of day… brooding, dark and thought provoking.

Not quite captured by the photo, but it’s good to have a reminder for writing. I am using photos increasingly in the seagull. 

I also seem to have a zombie invasion at home 

My son has designed a pop up graveyard and decided to act out the zombie resurrection… it looks like he’s coming to eat what’s left of my brain so better go

A lot of wattpad…and waiting for my husband to proofread Dunn

I bit the bullet last Friday and posted the first chapter of my second novel, currently called ‘the Seagull’ on wattpad and despite me initial apprehension, this has so far proved to be a positive experience. 

I’ve had 42 reads now and some really positive comments. Also some very helpful feedback, which I have taken on board and started to incorporate to my next draft…not many votes yet, but hey ho! 

I haven’t heard from any agents that I wrote to, and so I am going to assume that I have been unsuccessful. 

I’ve had a quote from Matador (who thankfully didn’t have a problem with helping publish my book) and it was reasonable, so I am considering going through them at the moment. A print on demand and ebook with basic marketing should be achievable. I have some queries so will include more details when I get a response.

All a bit of a rushed week as it was a friend’s party Fri in Hertfordshire and then back to Sussex to see a band last night, so I’m a bit tired! 

Still waiting for my poor husband to finish proof reading Dunn. He is a technical writer so I am exploiting him mercilessly to avoid spending £475 on a proof read.

Wrote about 4000 words of the seagull, killed off a pixie, and thoroughly enjoyed writing this week. Also moved up a group at the running club and nearly kept up, so all in all a successful week.

Wattpad…my first published fiction

So, I have made a decision, I have bitten the bullet and I have published the first chapter of my second novel on 

I have called it the Seagull, because it starts with a seagull, though this is a working title, and what I’ve put up is an early draft so there are no doubt issues with it.  

I don’t know if it’s exciting or terrifying.  I guess I will see if anyone reads it before I decide.

If anyone is interested, I could find it under fantasy/ mythology/new when I looked for it, but not when I searched for my name, (Kay Jay)…hmmmm. It has a giant Seagull on the book cover (yes I designed a free book cover on canva too)

So, now I have to read and follow other people…any suggestions happily accepted. There’s a lot of stuff on there so it’s hard to choose. I’ve picked a few that come up in the fantasy/mythology category and there are some interesting ones out there.  

I have also set up a page on WordPress and I am actually going to finally put my sample chapters of Dunn up there. Still not made a decision about how exactly I am going to self publish, but hey, I still have a couple of rejection emails to come back so there’s time.

I’ve done a couple of book cover designs for Dunn too, though from what I’ve heard you really need someone professional to design covers for printed books for you if you want them to look okay.  

I’ve also made progress with the Facebook author page….it’s not ready, but there’s something on it now. So I deserve a night out with my husband. We are off to see a band. 

My first rejection email, rubbish weather, and a fair few non-exercise related distractions

I am now a proper author – the first rejection email from an agent is back.

In the end I decided on 3 agents in the writers and artists yearbook.  This one, I liked the sound of, but apparently that’s not mutual.  The email back was nice enough – not one for us, we only take a look at a handful of the thousands of manuscripts we get…and a list of links to expensive editorial services…..I am a bitter old cynic (and a pessimist so I was and still am expecting rejections), but when the email comes back at 9 am Monday and you sent the sample chapters etc at lunch time Friday, it does make you think ‘hmmmmm  read every single one’ do you?  Either someone there works all weekend (I know many people do), or they aren’t quite telling the truth….Anyhow…it’s not unexpected and I’m sure my synopsis and cover letter were not brilliant.

So two more rejections to go, and then I have to decide what to do with ‘Dunn’……

I decided to ask Matador for a quote (as they have a good reputation), and they replied saying ‘thanks we will consider your manuscript’….I hadn’t realised that I was sending it for consideration, as they have the briefest of forms that you fill in, I thought I was asking for a rough figure and then if I decided to pay them an extortionate amount of money I would ask them to consider my book (they turn down 25 % – if mine is one I will probably throw my dummy out of the pram, as I wasn’t actually aware I was asking them to reject my money when I sent it!!!)  So this week is going well……

Now the dilemma is, do I get one of these companies (there are many other options and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), has a list of reputable ones here) or do I go it alone on kindle direct (through amazon) and createspace, then try to build up a name on Wattpad???

I didn’t know about Wattpad previously – I had read a bit about it then dismissed it instantly, because you basically let people read your work for free….but that’s what most people seem to be doing on kindle direct, pretty much, and is anyone likely to bother reading something by someone they’ve never heard of?  Probably not.

It appears from my research that you still control all copyright of anything you put on Wattpad if you tick the right box, and it does give you your own author page….so you can try to build a readership that way?

I think (and my tutor agrees) that my writing has improved a lot since Dunn, but I have spent a lot of time improving it, and I’m not sure I’m willing to sacrifice it entirely….of course you can remove books, it looks like, so I guess you can make things available for a limited time, then remove them.  I need to check. Maybe there is someone I could ask on there.  Who knew this would be so b***** complicated.

The good news is, the final draft of Dunn is now done – hooray.  I’d crack open some champagne but I need to train for a marathon and after the last half marathon, I’d better not falter too much from the plan if I want to get back to where I was and meet my running goals (if not all of my writing goals).  Finishing ‘Dunn’ leaves me lots of time to work on the next book, part of a teenage/young adult/old kidult (joke before anyone gets offended) fantasy trilogy.  I’m 21,000 words into draft one and there’s still three weeks of national novel writing week to go, so can I finish draft one of that by November 30th?

Not if I get distracted by an offshoot that I was thinking I might write and serialise on Wattpad, probably…stick to the plan.  I’d also better ride my bike.  I stupidly signed up to do a duathlon in January, thinking ‘hey that will be good for keeping my bike fitness up’, but it’s cold and I’m a fair weather cyclist and swimmer.  That Californian heat wave is becoming a distant memory already and husband says it’s Clacton next year, especially if I end up paying anybody to produce and market my book properly 😦



Novel writing month and disappointing half marathons

It’s national novel writing month starting today, and in true form I’m not going to get any writing done. So, I’m going to count yesterday as day one, because I managed a draft of my morrigan chapter yesterday….then realised that I hadn’t quite finished the previous chapter. Obviously I had so much time thinking thanks to the jetlag, that I assumed I’d written it!!! I had planned it out, miraculously, as I rarely physically plan what I’m writing. My first draft is an expanded plan based on a plot idea. That’s the way I wrote Dunn and it seems to work for me, although the fact that it’s taken 5 drafts for me to be happy (ish) with it possibly begs that question…..
On that note, I read another very thought provoking article by Kirsten lamb here which talks about the need for perfection as one of the enemies of progress!!! All I’m going to say is….Dunn is still NOT perfect, and I doubt it ever will be. But it’s BETTER (much) ENOUGH.  

Bearing Kirsten’s article in mind I’m going to have a bash at getting another 50,000 words of longhand done in November, albeit in imperfect draft one form. And it’s very imperfect! I read my previous chapter through before starting the next one as I usually do and realised that what I thought I’d written and what actually went down weren’t quite the same…especially as in my head I had actually finished it.  Which is why redrafting is so important of course. 

I also managed to ‘final draft’ another 2 chapters of Dunn on Monday despite a mild hangover (decided to beat the jet lag with red wine, which actually worked, but it doesn’t take much to give me a hangover these days), so the writing has actually gone pretty well so far this week. I deserve a day off (even though I just had a week’s holiday).

Not so much the running through! Why I thought I could even get close to my february pb after half my usual weekly running mileage and barely any speed work/long runs I don’t know! But I did and I couldn’t. I should be happy that my grumpy hamstrings let me run a half marathon at all, and I am, but I’m still annoyed. Anyway, 4 months until Brighton should hopefully be time to turn it around. Think I’d better steer clear of my turbo for the time being as fairly sure that’s what upset my hamstrings, although I also got a new bike (thanks to lovely husband), and should probably get a bike fit. At £180 ish quid though, that’s not happening at the moment. So onwards and upwards with everything (fingers crossed)